Anakin Skywalker just couldn't soar as high as the expectations for his Movie. Star Wars: Episode I--The Phantom Menace opened at warp speed, selling $102.7 million worth of tickets in five days. But as Weekend Two rolled around, Hollywood insiders were privately saying the film failed to hit the heights many had predicted: The $61.8 million it collected over its first weekend trailed the $70 million record by Steven Spielberg's dinosaur film The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Industry observers now expect Menace to generate more than $300 million in U.S. theater sales, putting it in the top 10 all-time films, but behind the original Star Wars (No. 2) and well behInd Titanic, which took in $600.7 million.
But there is plenty of evidence that the Force is still strong with its fans. Fox, which is distributing the movie, paid an estimated $50 million to air Menace on Fox Network next year, before cable can get it. And in Menomonie, Wis., a pair of thieves stole a print from the State Theater, apparently to make bootleg video copies of the film.